Improve Your Business 615

 1. Know your “why.” Before you start marketing a business, you have to know why you are doing it. Everything has to be intentional. You’re probably thinking, “I’m marketing because I need customers!” Yes, but why are you doing the marketing activities you’ve chosen? 

2. Have a plan. Having a marketing plan is a lifesaver, if you go by the seat of your pants, you’ll drown. Your marketing plan will direct you to the right marketing activities and give you something to keep you accountable.

 

3. Network. Network. Network. Word of mouth is always going to be one of the best forms of marketing. Take the opportunity to go to various events and network with other business owners and the general population. Look at your Chamber for upcoming events.

 

4. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Putting yourself and your business out there is never easy – you won’t survive if you stay within your protected bubble. You have to pop that and seek out ideas and opportunities to grow as a business owner and to grow your business. Michael Dell once said, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.” This applies to your comfort zone as well.

 

5. Use social media, but not every platform. There are only so many hours in the day. Look at what your customers are using and use that. Just because there are lots of social media platforms, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all.

 

6. Make sure you have a website – and update it often. In the digital age, if your business doesn’t have a website, you are majorly missing out. People will be looking for you on the web – make sure you’re there.

 

7. Blog. Give people a reason to keep coming back to your website. Blog and give them tips, case studies, your latest products – make sure you keep giving them a reason to visit you on the web.
8. Give your customers great customer service. People will pay more for a product over a lesser-priced one if you continually give them phenomenal customer service. Now, not every business or person is perfect so you may have an off-day, but treat your customers like you’d want to be treated by your favorite business.

 

9. Run a contest. What better way to get your business more attention? Run a contest and share it on social media. Give away something. People love to win.

 

10. Develop a Customer Referral Program. Offer existing customers a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers. Remember, word-of-mouth is powerful stuff, so friends telling friends about your business is incredibly valuable.

 

11. Host an Event or Class. This is something I love to do. Plan an event or class to host, then print out flyers and post them on community bulletin boards and online. This is a great way to get the word out about your business.

 

12. Email marketing. Collect your customer’s email addresses (with permission) and email them about upcoming sales or events. You can even segment these out to target specific people.

 

13. Don’t be afraid to give something away for free. I’m talking samples, free consultations, free trials – people love to try before they buy.

 

14. Sponsor something. For ME Marketing, I’m an athletic booster at my daughters’ school. With that, my business name is printed in programs and up on the board at the football field and in the gym. With community or school sponsors you get incredible visibility.

 

15. Be consistent in your messaging and branding. People need to recognize you no matter where they see you. Also, make sure to spell-check 😉

 

16. Answer the questions your customers ask. When buyers of any kind begin their journey, they go to Google to ask a question, and they will find an answer. As a marketer, the question becomes: will it be your answer they discover?

 

17. Understand that marketing is not the same as advertising. You can market your small business in literally hundreds of ways without spending money (aka, advertising), so it pays to know what they are and then eliminate the ones that won’t work, or that you can’t afford, up-front.

18. sure you have business cards. This is pretty much a requirement. Without cards, how will someone you meet in person know how to get in touch with you?

 

19. Get creative with promotional products and give them away. I am a pen person. I use pens from all sorts of businesses, so when I purchased a promotional product for my business, guess what I got? Pens. Koozies work well too. Have something with your business info on it that people will use over and over again.

 

20. Join your local Chamber of Commerce. As a member of mine, I’ve gotten several opportunities I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t a member. This is a group of people who are there for the business owner – join and tap into that network of support.

 

21. Find a way to measure your ROI. Whatever you do, it’s important to measure your efforts so you know what’s working and what isn’t.

 

22. Be proactive. Don’t wait for your competitors to do something – do it first. This could be a promotion, event, advertising campaign. It’s like what they say – the early bird gets the worm.

 

23. Balance your online and offline activities. You have to have a presence online but don’t let it suck up all your marketing time and energy. Find a balance between doing the stuff online and offline.

 

24. Remember – quality over quantity. When marketing, it’s easy to become obsessed with numbers – having the most Facebook fans, having the most people attend an event, etc. Focus on the quality. You could end up with one really good customer who brings in 40% of your sales.

 

25. Host an online Tweet Chat or a Q&A session. What a great way to connect with your online audience and get new followers! Online sessions are perfect for answering your customer’s questions and really finding out and learning more about your market.

 

26. Mix it up. Don’t only do TV ads or just do flyers on dorm doors – mix up your marketing efforts. Doing the same thing will get stale and boring over time.

 

27. Think outside the box. Some of the best marketing ideas came from this kind of thinking. Chick-fil-A cows for example. Who would have put cows with a chicken restaurant?

 

28. Get creative. Part of marketing is entertaining. Yes, you want to get the message out, but you want to be memorable (see #27).

 

29. Partner up with other businesses. Form a strategic partnership with businesses that share the same target audience. Sell jewelry? Host a joint event with a retail shop! Own a local coffee shop? Partner with a bakery! The possibilities are endless and this will give you great exposure.

 

30. Give your business a personality. No one cares for those businesses who are as exciting as a cardboard box. Let your personality as the business owner shine through your business. Examples? See Charmin and their Twitter feed.

 

31. Focus on the relationship. Marketing to the masses is one thing, but for small businesses, you want to build that relationship with your customer. Send them a birthday card. Tag them on social media. Build a relationship with them and they’ll keep coming back.

 

32. Use video. Videos don’t have to be costly and they don’t have to be made by professionals. Some of the most famous YouTube accounts are made with iPhones. Brainstorm some ideas for video content with your staff and start uploading!.

 

33. Make sure your business is mobile-friendly. Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly and make sure it loads quickly on smartphones. Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly are being penalized in mobile searches.

 

34. Don’t forget your call-to-action! Every point of customer contact in your digital marketing efforts should contain calls-to-action that lead back to your website, a landing page, an opt-in form, and so on. The ultimate goal is some form of conversion, so everything should be designed that way.

 

35. Have fun. Marketing your business will be one of the most fun things you do. You don’t have to balance any accounting sheets or clean a store-front. Have fun and show

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How to Start a Small Business in a Few Hours

What the heck are you waiting for?

The process of starting a business IS NOT complicated. Like a lot of would-be entrepreneurs, stalling because they are intimidated by the apparent complexity of the administrative and legal tasks involved in starting a business. It takes less then 3 hours !

Keep in mind, I’m only talking about setting yourself up to do business: I’m not talking about writing a business plan (although if that’s what you want to do, go right ahead.) I didn’t ! The goal is to get off square one and get on to the fun stuff.

Here’s how:
Get over the company-name thing.
Many people agonize endlessly over dreaming up the perfect company name. Don’t. If you’re waiting until you come up with the perfect name, you’re also waiting to start making money.
Instead, at least for now, forget branding and unique selling propositions and all the business-identity stuff. And don’t worry about finding the perfect URL or website design or promotional literature. You’re putting those carts way before your business horse, too.
1. Just pick a name so you can get the administrative ball rolling.

Remember, your business can operate under a different name than your company name. (A “doing business as” form takes minutes to complete.) And you can change your company name later, if you like.

2. Get your Employer Identification number (EIN).
An EIN is the federal tax number used to identify your business. You don’t need an EIN unless you will have employees or plan to form a partnership, LLC, or corporation.
But even if you don’t need an EIN, get one anyway: It’s free, takes minutes, and you can keep your Social Security number private and reduce the chance of identity theft, because if you don’t have an EIN, your SSN identifies your business for tax purposes.
Note: If you’re using an online legal service to set up an LLC or corporation, don’t use it to get your EIN. Instead, apply online at the IRS website. You’ll have your EIN in minutes.
Now it’s time to head to your locality’s administrative offices.
3. Register your trade name.
If you won’t operate under your own name, your locality may require you to register a trade name. In most cases, you’ll get approved on the spot. 
4. Get your business license.
Your county or city will require a business license. The form takes minutes to fill out. Use your EIN instead of your Social Security number to identify your business (for privacy reasons if nothing else).
You may be asked to estimate annual gross receipts. Do your best to estimate accurately, but don’t agonize over it. You’re just providing an estimate.
5. Complete a business personal-property tax form.

If you are required to file a business personal-property tax form and you plan to work from home using computers, tools, etc., that you already own, you won’t need to list those items.
If you purchase tangible personal property during your first year in business, you will list those items when you file your business personal-property tax form the following year.
6. Ask your locality about other permits.
Every locality has different requirements. In my area, for example, a “home occupation permit” is required to verify that a business based in a home meets zoning requirements.
Your locality may require other permits. Ask. They’ll tell you.
7. Get a certificate of resale (if necessary).
A certificate of resale, also known as a seller’s permit, allows you to collect state sales tax on products sold. (There is no sales tax on services.)
If you will sell products, you need a seller’s permit. Your state department of taxation’s website has complete details, forms, etc., if you decide to apply online, but most localities have forms you can complete while you’re at their administrative offices.
8. Get a business bank account.
One of the easiest ways to screw up your business accounting and possibly run afoul of the IRS is to commingle personal and business funds (and transactions). Using a business account for all business transactions eliminates that possibility.
Get a business account using your business name and EIN, and only use that account for all business-related deposits, withdrawals, and transactions.
Pick a bank or credit union that is convenient. Check out your local credit unions; often they provide better deals than banks.
9. Set up simple accounting.
For Realtors TAR has “Tax Bot” app for phone. Free 30 day trial. Even tracks your mileage. Then $9.99 a month. Sooo easy to use . Never need an accountant again !

Instead of spending hours playing with accounting software, dreaming up potential expense and income categories , download taxbot if your a member of TAR !
And now you’re an entrepreneur, with all the documents to prove it.